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Vaginal bleeding 101: When it’s normal and when it’s not

Here’s what bleeding between your periods can indicate about your health according to a gynaecologist
bleeding after sex
Bleeding after sex? Know what causes that. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Sonakshi Kohli Updated: 13 Oct 2023, 16:33 pm IST
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Periods are a pain in the rear for most of us women out here. From period cramps and mood swings to fatigue and food cravings—there is no dearth of problems when Aunty Flo comes to visit.

However, it seems like in some cases her five-day visit is just not enough. Many women complain of an occasional spotting or simply multiple episodes of bleeding even between their periods.

But is that really okay?
“Any bleeding besides menstrual bleeding is abnormal,” states Dr Anu Vij, consultant, obstetrics and gynaecology, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar, Mumbai.

“If vaginal bleeding occurs between a woman’s periods, after sex, after menopause, or during pregnancy, then it certainly indicates there’s something wrong going on in your body. In fact, even periods that are heavier and tend to last for a long span of time are a sign of danger,” she adds.

menstrual cramps remedies
Bleeding in between your periods could be a sign of underlying health conditions. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What causes these ‘uncalled for’ vaginal bleeding episodes though?
“Such cases of vaginal bleeding can be due to certain medications, hormonal imbalances (like oestrogen and progesterone imbalance), thyroid gland problems, and vaginal douching,” Dr Vij points out.

Also read: Do your periods hurt like hell? These 5 underlying health conditions could be the reason why

“Other causes of vaginal bleeding are uterine fibroids; sexually transmitted infections (STI); a pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) that leads to inflammation of one’s reproductive organs causing scarring; vaginal, uterus or cervical cancer; and/or use of birth control pills and intrauterine devices,” she further explains and adds that if vaginal bleeding occurs during pregnancy, then a woman may have a miscarriage.

“In any of these cases, you must consult your doctor to determine the underlying cause of your vaginal bleeding without any delay,” Vij warns.

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Is it ever okay though?
Sometimes, being under extreme stress or tension can lead to spotting down there. In fact, as pointed out earlier by Dr Vij, certain medications can also lead to vaginal bleeding. In this case, you might want to adopt a better stress-management strategy and switch your meds.

However, Dr Vij also says that if the episodes of vaginal bleeding are recurrent and are accompanied by itchiness or redness down there, irregular periods, heavy vaginal discharge, painful sex, heavy bleeding, you’ve got to act on it.

Vaginal yeast infection
if your vaginal bleeding is accompanied by painful intercourse and vaginal discharge then visit a doctor, immediately! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Take these precautions while you’re being treated for the problem
Once you identify the cause of bleeding between your periods, you can take a few extra precautions to prevent it in the future.

“You must stay hydrated if you bleed heavily during your period. Eat iron (beans, spinach) and vitamin-C-rich foods (strawberry, kiwis, broccoli). Maintain optimum weight, take birth control pills as per the guidelines of your doctor, manage your stress better, and go for hormone replacement therapy after consulting a doctor,” Dr Vij concludes.

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